It was World Book Day this week, so who better to feature but the divine patroness of scribes herself, Seshat—"foremost of the library".
This pristine image of Seshat is carved on the back of the throne of a colossal seated statue of Ramesses II at Luxor Temple.
Here she notches a palm-leaf stalk, marking the number of royal jubilees enjoyed by the king. At the bottom of the stalk is a tadpole, the hieroglyphic sign for 100,000, sitting on a shen ring, signifying eternity. The overall message is clear, Seshat is reckoning the unlimited years of the king's reign.
The goddess wears a long, figure-hugging leopard skin robe, linking her with the sem priests who officiated at funerary rites.
But what about that odd symbol on her head? That's still open to interpretation. Tucked into her headband is a seven-pointed star, or rosette, on a long stem. Alternatively, it could be a stylised palm tree that she uses to mark the passage of time. Above it floats two inverted horns. Or the moon. Or some kind of bow. What do YOU think?
I hope you had a lovely World Book Day, and if you feel like losing yourself in ancient Egypt for a while, check out Nile Magazine. Have Nile delivered to your door via the Subscribe page. Enjoy your Nile time!